This question came from a friend of mine this week and I thought it was a tongue-in-cheek, ridiculous observation designed to annoy and provoke me and therefore, merited nothing more than a laugh. So I went ahead and laughed and then, not wanting to be rude, asked them…are you serious? Well, yes, they were. So I stopped and thought for a moment. Truly, I don’t see myself as an angry person, and was feeling no animosity towards anyone at the moment so I wondered where this comment was coming from? What signals was I giving off that made it appear that I was angry? I have made it a point to be open with my emotions (too much so at times, but I am working on that) and often react spontaneously to situations instead of thinking things through and as a result sometimes inappropriately blurt out the first thing that comes to mind (working on that as well) and tend to be reactionary instead of initiating and deliberate and visionary (yes, yes, I know…I need to work on that too).
Sigh. In the long run, I do suppose I am often annoyed (however briefly) and show some displeasure (at whatever situation) to those around me whom I feel free to be spontaneous and unguarded with (yes, I KNOW, never end a sentence with a preposition…argh…adding that to my list of things to work on!). And that’s not fair. The people whom I hang around with on a regular basis should not always be the ones experiencing the majority of the frustration I feel in my life. I am thankful that they are generally so forgiving, but not thankful enough, I know. I was quite convicted of the lack of overall thankfulness in my life a few weeks ago, and I guess this question reminded me that I must make a conscious effort to change the negative patterns and reactions in my life. This negativity is a path I choose to go down, and I know I can just as readily choose another, more positive way. Habits can be changed with a little bit of effort and lots of practise.
On a recent road trip with friends, we played an interesting game in the car. We were talking about telling the truth in love and I came up with the idea of practising on each other. What was I thinking??? So each person picked someone in the car and told them one thing they admired about them, and one thing they thought could use a little improvement. Sounds harmless enough between good friends, but it was challenging as we all suddenly felt very vulnerable. Not to worry, as everyone was kind and gentle, yet truthful, and that made it all the more poignant and profound. An off-hand remark or insult can easily be brushed aside, but a trusted friend graciously telling you that you take things too personally – well, that just cut deep into me because it was true, and because it was done in a loving way. Yes, I too often take offense where none is intended. I assume things are directed at me or about me when they are not. I let things affect me out of proportion to what the situation merits. And right about now as I write this I am starting to feel a bit of despair at my incredible immaturity and self-absorption.
Well, isn’t that the way it always is. Just when you feel you have things under control in your life and stuff is going well and you know you are a pretty fine and decent and wise person and people love you for it…well, the truth comes and slaps you in the face and the best thing you can do is hit the floor and repent and cry out to God for grace and mercy and ask your friends for more of the same because truly, I am only able to produce filthy rags that like to parade as righteousness.
I must stop trying to find excuses for those idiosyncrasies that really are at odds with the way Jesus does things and let him be those things I cannot. His life, not mine.
Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you merci merci merci merci merci merci merci merci merci thank you thank you...just practising my new habit.